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In recent political contests, economics has been used as a subjective language of disputation and identification, contradicting the field's traditional aspirations to objectivity, even science. In both partisan politics and the related but not identical bifurcation between "populist" and "establishment" or "elite" discourse, positions have become routinized into antagonistic tropes. This poses a serious problem for the United States, which uses political discourse not only for politics, but to create social cohesion among disparate groups. More generally, elites bereft of Marx no longer have a grammar with which to conceptualize, critique, and ultimately defend the global liberal order that they have inherited, and which I call the City of Gold. In particular, they have little way to address the problem of alienation other than through a banal materialism that requires economic growth (in short supply), or the use of subaltern narratives to generate the warmth of bien pensant tribes. Elites in many high income societies have thus revealed themselves to be not only unprepared for the onslaught of populism, but not serious on their own terms.

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Real-World Economics Review

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